Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is the birthday of the world, and birthdays are big days. It’s a time to take stock, both individually and as a community, and to think about ways to make the coming year even better than the last.
The High Holidays (Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur) are an opportunity to do some self-reflection. We take stock of mistakes of the past year, apologize for them, and then set goals to do better in the future. On the very first day of Rosh Hashanah, many people do something called tashlich. This ritual is a way to feel like you have a clean slate for the coming year. Tashlich means “to cast away,” so many families like to perform this ritual by throwing bread crumbs into a body of water.
While a lot of grown-ups grew up using bread crumbs for tashlich, we know today that human-food” like bread isn’t great for some wild-life to eat. It’s not that the bread is poisonous to ducks, it just fills them up, leaving no room for the nutritional food they would otherwise eat. Ever had to use the phrase “Don’t fill up on bread”? It’s pretty much the same for birds as it is for humans. Luckily there are lots of ways to get creative when performing tashlich. And if you’d like to stay closer to tradition and “cast off” into moving water, here are some environmentally-friendly options you can try:
If there aren’t any small pebbles nearby, you can always try fallen leaves or tiny twigs to keep the items natural to the local environment. Animals won’t try to eat these, and they’re still easy enough to pick up and toss. Or go to the beach and practice skipping stones.
Small bark chips can also be used. As a pre-holiday activity, you could even try using an earth-friendly ink and writing sins or ways you’d like to do better in the new year on flat bark chips before throwing them. You can also write using vegetable juice--a great way to make use of leftover simanim, symbolic foods.
Of course, you could always use food birds actually eat. Pet supply stores might have suggestions as to what would be appropriate for local wildlife.
MAKE YOUR OWN RUNNING WATER
If you’re attached to using bread – maybe it’s a long-time family tradition – consider changing up the water source. Instead of visiting a stream, hook up a hose and create your own running water. Afterward, you could gather up the soggy bread and compost it.
Here’s a bonus: if switching over to a carb-free Tashlich leaves you with extra stale bread you don’t know what to do with, try this delicious chocolate bread pudding.
Need a quick Rosh Hashanah activity, recipe, or story idea?
August 16, 2018